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What Gangs Do

It is not practical to catalog all actions committed by criminal street gangs. In fact, many gang activities are frequently shared by a large portion of society. But, when a gang is involved in a weekend party, a fund-raising car wash, or even a family or neighborhood picnic, the potential for violence and criminal activity is far greater than for any other group of people. Gang members seek confrontations with rivals and the resulting violence often claims innocent victims.

While gang violence often makes headlines, it creates even more damage on a regular basis to local property and businesses. Vandalism, in the form of graffiti and the wanton destruction of public and private property, is often done in furtherance of a gang’s reputation. This form of vandalism is a problem that impacts our City in a variety of ways. Without question, it decreases property values in residential neighborhoods and negatively affects industrial and commercial areas.

Abandoned houses are a favorite target for vandalism, but even occupied homes may not escape gang tyranny. Local businesses suffer not only from property damage and graffiti, but also from loss of customers and employees. Businesses facing decreasing revenue and rising insurance costs close their doors, leaving behind yet another abandoned building for the gang. However, the majority of residents in the gang area who are unable to move away, live in fear.

Gangs thrive on intimidation and notoriety. They find violence not only glamorous but also necessary in establishing their reputation as a gang to be feared. Gang activities are designed to entice many youths to view drinking, drug use, creating disorder, and vandalizing property as a form of fun. Partying, getting high, bullying people, and robbing designated targets are just part of the merriment and amusement. In essence, pro-gang attitudes are related to breaking the law.

The "drive-by" shooting is the most frequent violent crime committed by gangs. Members from one gang will seek out the homes, vehicles or hang-outs of a rival gang and, using an assortment of weapons, will drive by and shoot at members of that gang. Usually, the gang member will yell out the gang name or a slogan so the attacked gang will know who was responsible.

Although most gangs are formed along racial or ethnic lines, violence between gangs is normally intra-racial.

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